Pollinators: Europe must block hornet invasion

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Another notable omission from the European Union's list of invasive alien species that are targeted for action is the Asian yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax (see J. Pergl et al. Nature 531, 173; 2016). Since its arrival in Europe more than a decade ago, this voracious honeybee predator has also caused human deaths from its sting (see K. Monceau et al. J. Pest. Sci. 87, 116; 2014).

The hornet's impact is severe in Mediterranean countries, where beekeeping is a crucial source of income. Local beekeepers have their own makeshift eradication methods (such as traps of vinegar with glue), but these also kill important insect pollinators.

The species needs to be officially classified as an invader in all European countries, so that funds can be applied to its study and control. Public campaigns are essential to increase people's awareness and understanding of this threat — for example, regarding the differences between wasp species, many of which are vital for ecosystem functions and services.

We urgently need a coordinated EU plan to control this hornet invasion and to mitigate its potentially serious economic and ecological impacts.

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  1. *On behalf of 5 correspondents (see Supplementary information for full list).

    • Frederico Santarém


  1. Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO/InBIO), Porto, Portugal.

    • Frederico Santarém

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